Local and international organisations are increasingly seeking HR professionals who possess expertise with a global perspective. Like many other countries, Kenya has a talented pool of HR professionals who can make significant contributions on the global stage. However, to compete for international HR jobs, these professionals need to equip themselves with the right skills, knowledge and experience. Here are five strategies Kenya can take as a country to prepare HR professionals to excel in the international job market.
Strong Educational Foundation
The first step is to establish a robust educational and training foundation. Universities, middle-level colleges and other educational institutions need to focus on developing comprehensive HR programmes that combine theoretical knowledge with practical experiences. These programmes should cover essential HR sub-disciplines, such as talent management, employee development, reward management, labour laws, and international HR practices.
In addition, it is crucial to integrate cross-cultural awareness and diversity training into the curriculum. In an international setting, HR professionals interact with a diverse workforce from various countries and backgrounds. It is critical to understand and appreciate different cultural norms and practices.
To gain a competitive edge when seeking international opportunities, potential candidates require exposure to global HR practices. Our educational institutions need to collaborate with international ones to provide students with prerequisite competencies for the global HR job market.
Language proficiency is a critical skill for HR professionals looking to work internationally. English is widely spoken in the global business world, and HR professionals should be proficient in both written and spoken English. Strong communication skills enable HR practitioners to effectively engage with colleagues, employees, and stakeholders from different parts of the world.
In addition to English, learning other languages commonly used in the global business arena, such as French, Spanish, or Mandarin, can be a significant advantage. Bilingual or multilingual HR professionals have an edge when dealing with multinational teams and facilitating communication between employees from different linguistic backgrounds.
Acquiring relevant professional certifications is another effective way to prepare Kenyan HR professionals for international HR jobs. Holders of certifications from globally recognised HR organisations demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and appreciation of international HR standards.
HR professionals are encouraged to pursue certifications that can be supported by both public and private sectors. They can get certifications through sponsorships and training opportunities. It is important to obtain certifications that are recognised both locally and internationally.
International Work Experience
International work experience is a game-changer for HR professionals aiming to compete in the global job market. Employers, particularly those with branches in other countries, should encourage and facilitate opportunities for HR professionals to work on international assignments or projects.
This experience would allow HR professionals to gain exposure to different work cultures and learn about best practices in HR from other countries. They can also build valuable networks with other HR professionals across the globe.
Employers can collaborate with international organisations or secondment programmes that enable HR professionals to work abroad temporarily. In addition, the government can establish partnerships with other countries to create exchange programmes that allow HR professionals to spend time working in foreign organisations.
Continuous Professional Development
Preparing HR professionals for international HR jobs is an ongoing process that requires a commitment to continuous professional development (CPD). HR professionals, who are aspiring for international HR work, should attend seminars, webinars, and conferences focused on global HR trends and best practices. These events provide opportunities to exchange knowledge and gain insights into emerging HR technologies and strategies. They are also a professional ground to meet and interact with HR thought leaders and peers.
Mentorship programmes play a vital role in supporting CPD. Experienced HR professionals can guide and mentor the younger generation and help them navigate the complexities of international HR jobs.
As Kenya continues to strengthen its position in the global economy, it needs to equip its HR professionals with competences to compete effectively for international HR jobs. This can enhance its reputation as a talent pool for HR professionals and contribute significantly to the international HR community.
The writer is a Human Resource Development (HRD) Consultant and Author of Transition into Retirement; email: [email protected]